Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Little tunny: Love at first bite!

Capt. Rick Grassett of the Snook Fin-Addict in Sarasota shows off a fine fly-rod little tunny caught in the inshore Gulf of Mexico.

There are several wonderful things about fall in Florida: The air and water begin to cool; The rainy season is over and a tri-named fish shows up in the inshore Gulf of Mexico.

When little tunny (also known as bonito or false albacore) are around, Capt. Rick Grassett of the Snook Fin-Addict (http://snookfin-addict.com/) in Sarasota is a happy camper. LT’s, as they are sometimes called, are one of his favorite fish.

“They’re everything you want,” said Grassett. “They are strong, make fast and exciting runs and they’ll eat an assortment of lures and flies.”

When Grassett has a rare day off in the fall, he’ll head into the inshore Gulf of Mexico and begin scouting for little tunny. He prefers the area south of old Midnight Pass, but he has a number of spots which can and often do produce. Top areas include Point o’ Rocks off Siesta Key, just north of the Venice Inlet, the area between New Pass and the Colony Beach Resort on Longboat Key and just north and south of Longboat Pass.

“They can be spread out or you might find them in a particular area,” said Grassett, who operates out of C.B.’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key. “You just have to find them.”

On a recent trip, Grassett launched his Action Craft flats skiff at Ken Thompson Park on City Island near Sarasota and headed out New Pass.

“I heard there were some little tunny in this area yesterday,” he said.

Grassett slowly motored north, looking for signs of fish along the way. He looks for baitfish on the surface and/or diving birds.

“I’ve been getting into fish south of Midnight Pass,” he said. “Let’s try there.”

There were no diving birds or baitfish along the way. But as he neared the northern tip of Casey Key, Grassett saw a flock of diving birds about a mile away.

“There they are,” he said. “Looks like busting fish below them.”

Those busting fish were little tunny and Spanish mackerel. Although you might find both species mixed together, that’s not always the case. It wasn’t in this instance. Under one bait school it was mackerel. The other had little tunny.

“You can tell by watching the busts,” said Grassett. “Mackerel don’t make much of a disturbance and they’ll often jump.

“Little tunny really disturb the water.”

For this action, Grassett prefers fly tackle. He advises 8- or 9-weight rods and sinktip lines (to get the fly down a little. The reel must be capable of holding 200 yards of backing.

Leader should be at least 6 feet of 20-pound fluorocarbon. No need for fancy tapered leaders here.

“I’ll use a short length of wire if there are a lot of mackerel around,” said Grassett. “That keeps the bite-offs down. Plus, it doesn’t seem to bother the little tunny.”

As far as flies go, he uses his Grassett’s Snook Fly. Most any small baitfish imitation will work.

“Size is important,” Grassett said. “Sometimes the little tunny get keyed into a certain size bait and won’t even look at your fly if it’s too big or too small.

“Figure out what they’re feeding on and adjust accordingly.”

Of course, spinning enthusiasts can get in on the action. Grassett advises medium to medium-heavy rods and reels in the 3000 to 4000 sizes.

“You need at least 250 yards of line and a smooth drag,” he said.

A ¼-ounce white bucktail jig is about all you need. However, plastic-tailed jigs and Diamond Jigs also will work.

“You can use an assortment of plugs, but there’s really no need,” said Grassett. “It’s not much fun breaking off a $10 lure.

“Keep it simple.”

Little tunny aren’t considered great eating, so Grassett releases all he catches. That they aren’t prime food discourages some folks from pursuing them.

“That puzzles me,” said Grassett. “Little tunny are among our sportiest fish.”

Grassett said recently he suggested one of his clients give them a try, but got a strange reaction.

“I told him they were around and that they’re great fly-rod fish,” he said. “But all he said was ‘Didn’t you tell me they aren’t good to eat? Why would anyone want to do that?’ “

To each his own.

Tarpon and bonefish aren’t considered food fish in the United States, but that doesn’t stop a legion of anglers from pursuing them.

We only have occasional bonefish. And tarpon season is over.

But we do have little tunny. And they’ll stick around until the water gets too cold. That’s when they’ll head for their winter waters in the Caribbean. They’ll return in late winter or early spring.

“I wish we had them year round,” said Grassett. “They’re really great fish.”

Spotted seatrout have a lot of fans around the Sunshine State

Spotted seatrout action has been hot and heavy around Sarasota Bay and other area waters.
Snook arguably are Florida’s most-popular backcountry fish.

But spotted seatrout aren’t far behind.

Trout are plentiful, usually very cooperative and fairly good on the table.

They’re every man’s fish.

Fortunately, those of us who reside in or near the Sarasota-Bradenton area are smack dab in the middle of some of the finest seatrout fishing around. When other species have lockjaw, you can usually count on trout.

The outlook wasn’t so good just a few years ago. Red tide, a pesky algae bloom which periodically invades area waters, killed thousands of trout in Sarasota Bay and adjacent waters. The dreaded tide showed up in December of 2004 and lasted until January of 2006.

Many local charter operators put self-imposed moratoriums on killing seatrout for at least a few months. As a result of that moratorium and the fact that trout are very prolific, the species rebounded with gusto.

Tackle for spotted seatrout should be relatively light. Most often, I use a light spinning rod and 8-pound test braided line. I employ about an 18-inch length of fluorocarbon for a shock leader.

My No. 1 lure is a D.O.A. 1/16-ounce CAL Jig with a gold or copper crush paddle tail. D.O.A.’s Deadly Combination is a close second. I also use the MirrOlure MirrOdine and the Rapala Skitter Walk on occasion.

I most often fish Sarasota Bay. Favorite spots include the deep grass off Stephens Point, the deep grass off the sand between the Ringling Mansion and Whitfield Avenue and the deep grass off the southern side of Whale Key near Buttonwood Harbor.

I prefer to drift those areas and I avoid anchoring – unless the wind is strong.

Most often, I’ll start randomly casting with a jig to determine where the fish are located. Experience tells me to concentrate on edges or holes in the grass. I will target areas of broken bottom or sand holes within a grassy area. I don’t like to fish bottoms of solid grass.

To see the grass, a quality pair of polarized sunglasses is necessary.

Tide really isn’t a key factor when fishing over deep grass. As long as it’s moving one way or the other, I’m fine.

I prefer to use the lightest jig head possible. I don’t want my jig rocketing to the bottom and tangling in the grass. I want a slow fall.

I’ll cast my jig out, allow it to sink, reel in the slack and work it. Jigging and reeling are two separate actions. Many people make the mistake of reeling and jigging at the same time.

Trout (and other species) will hit the jig as it falls 99 percent of the time. That’s why using braided line and a sensitive graphite rod is important. When you feel the slightest hit, it’s time to reel up any slack and set the hook.

I’ve fished with anglers who insist on using monofilament. I don’t have any problem with their choice, but I’m convinced it’s not nearly as sensitive and I am sure a lot of hits go undetected. In addition, monofilament stretches so much that it’s often very difficult to set the hook. There’s no stretch in braided line.

One of the keys to successful trout fishing is to fish where there’s a food source. I constantly scan to water to look for baitfish. Inevitably, whenever I find glass minnows or pilchards on the surface, I find spotted seatrout below.

I also look for predator fish blowing up on minnows.

This past year has been very good in terms of large trout. Florida’s southwest coast is not considered prime territory for “gator” trout. That honor goes to the east coast. However, my clients and I have taken several trout from 6 to 7 ½ pounds this year.

One angler, Chuck Linn of Oklahoma, managed three behemoths in one morning. His first trout was a 4-pounder and we thought that might be the catch of the morning. So, I took a photo of Linn and his fish.

His next trout was a 6 ¼-pounder that he caught on a topwater plug. I took his picture and then walked back to the kayak to put the camera up. But I didn’t get 20 feet away when Linn said he had another monster trout. This one weighed 6 ½ pounds.

I took his photo again and began walking back to the kayak. He hooked another gator.

His third monster trout of the morning weighed 7 ½ pounds.

All of that action took place on the grass flat along the south side of Whale Key on the west side of Sarasota Bay. I’ve taken several impressive trout (although none as large) since that time.

I also managed to catch a 7-pounder over the deep grass off Stephen’s Point in September.

I don’t keep spotted seatrout because they’re not my favorite fish to eat. I find them rather soft-fleshed. However, if you want to keep a couple for dinner, remember the bag limit is four per person per day. Slot limit is 15 to 20 inches. One fish in the limit may be more than 20 inches.

The season is closed in this part of the state in November and December.

Tides are important, but not the panacea of saltwater fishing

A tailing redfish searches for food a low tide.
Good tide, bad tide. High tide, low tide.

The only really bad tide around these parts is one that’s preceded by a rosey color.

Last time we had a hint of that rojo demon in these here parts was back in 2006 when the infamous bloom lasted 13 months and virtually wiped out the trout population in Sarasota Bay. But that was then, and the trout have rebounded quite well, thank you.

While our daily tides are important when it comes to fishing, they’re not the end-all some might think.

I was talking with Capt. Jack Hartman of Sarasota Fishing Charters and he said he doesn’t really care what the tide is doing when he heads out to fish.

“All I care is that it’s moving,” said Hartman.

And that is the crux of the matter. A moving tide is a good tide.

I’m not saying tides aren’t importantl. However, I do think many anglers put too much emphasis on the tide. In fact, first thing most clients want to know when we head out on a kayak-fishing trip is what the tide is doing?

And when I talk to various groups around the state, the No. 1 question without a doubt is about the tide.

“What’s your favorite tide?”

I think an understanding of the tide is important. In this area, we usually have four tides each day: two high and two low. They’re called “semi-diurnal” tides.

Tides are caused by the gravitational interaction between the sun and moon. We have the biggest tides around the new moon and the full moon.

That’s really all you need to know.

Think of the tide as a large conveyor belt that moves food. When the tide is moving, food is flowing with it. And fish are feeding.

Conversely, when the tide is slack, there’s no or little moving food. For the most part, fishing slows.

Additionally, when the tide is strong, fishing often is better.

The bane of fishing is the one week a month when we have only two tides a day. They are lengthy and seemingly take forever to ebb and flood. The flow is slow and not much food is moved. Fishing action usually slows down accordingly.

Of course the tide is important when you head out to fish. What the tide is doing has a bearing on where you’ll fish and for what species you’ll target.

If I want to try my luck on tailing redfish, I’m not going to do it unless we get a negative low tide. There can be redfish all over a particular flat, but you won’t see any tails piercing the water’s surface if the tide is high.

I try to avoid super high tides. It’s my feeling that those big tides allow the fish to swim most anywhere. The fish spread out and are much more difficult – in my opinion – to find. Fish such as redfish and snook likely will be 20 feet back in the mangroves, making them extremely tough to coax out (without the use of live chum).

On a perfect day, I like to fish the last couple of hours of an outgoing tide and first couple of hours of the incoming. And I wouldn’t mind at all if that low tide was negative. If I showed up at my favorite flat to find parts on it high and dry, I’d smile.

I think reds, snook and trout stage in deeper water at the edge of a flat and wait for the tide to flood. When it does, they’ll swim onto the flat and begin the feed. They remain on that flat until the tide begins to ebb. That’s when the fish will work their way off the flat and back to deep water.

So, I try to start fishing along the edge of the flat when the tide’s going out or beginning to trickle in. As the tide rises, I’ll move up on the flat.

This works for me and others.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is the tide doesn’t read the tide chart. Just because it’s supposed to be high at 10:31 a.m. doesn’t mean it will.

A few years ago, I was the guest speaker at a fishing club in Bradenton. Just before my talk, the club conducted its business. One of the items on the agenda was to set a date for the club’s monthly tournament.

Naturally, one of the members pulled out a tide chart and began searching for the best tides.

“March 20 looks pretty good,” he said.

Club members unanimously voted to hold their tournament on that date.

I asked why?

“Because there will be a strong incoming tide that day,” I was told.

I looked out the window at a great view of Sarasota Bay and asked what the tide was supposed to be at the moment?


I said, “Look out the window. It’s dead low.”

So much for tide charts.

A strong, northeast wind had pushed the tide out and kept it out.

How many times have you been on the water and the tide was supposed to be flowing one way but was going the opposite?

I’m going fishing regardless of the tide. Makes no sense to me to plan a trip, ready the equipment, relish in the anticipation and then get up that morning, look at the tide chart and decide to stay home because of a bad tide.

And more times than I can remember, I’ve had some really exciting days when I wasn’t supposed to.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Social media a good way to keep informed

Social media is a relatively new phenomenon. It’s fun and can be very informative.

I am on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook is pretty cool because it allows you to find friends from the past, classmates and relatives. It also allows you to connect with those with similar interests.

Twitter is cool because it’s pretty immediate. In addition to following athletes, anglers and personalities, I get the latest news – right now.

If you’re on Facebook, please send me a friend request.

You can follow me on Twitter @gibby3474.

I often “tweet” up-to-the-minute fishing reports right from the water.

Here are the lures that will produce for you in salt water

Client John Meuschke caught this fine Sarasota Bay redfish on a D.O.A. CAL Jig with gold paddle tail.
Most anglers carry way too much tackle. I’m quite guilty.

At the end of most fishing days, I could put all the lures I used in my shirt pocket.

That probably applies to you, too.

What I do now is to carry one small Plano plastic tackle box with the lures I might use that day.

Lure fishing is quite effective. I haven’t used live bait in so long that I have no clue what the price of shrimp is? I saw a bumper sticker a few years ago that summed up live bait quite nicely.

It read: “Fishing with live shrimp is like sleeping with your sister. It was OK when you were 5 years old.”

While I have nothing against live bait or those who use it, I just don’t feel the need to do so. I catch plenty of fish, and all are taken on artificial lures.

Here are my favorites. They work for me.

D.O.A. CAL Jig: This is my No. 1 lure. It’s a great fish-producer and excellent prospecting lure. I prefer the red, 1/16-ounce head. I like D.O.A.’s paddle tails in gold and copper crush. The paddle tails are very tough and you’ll only use two or three over the course of the day.

D.O.A. Shrimp: I prefer the 3-inch size. It’s very versatile and appeals to a variety of fish. My favorite colors are night glo and gold flake. These artificials work very well when fish alone or a part of D.O.A.’s Deadly Combination. The Deadly Combo is a popping cork, leader and D.O.A. Shrimp. Leader length depends on the depth of the water. You can buy them pre-rigged or construct your own. The Deady Combo also is very easy to use. Cast it out, allow the shrimp to sink, pop the cork and repeat. When the cork goes under, reel in the slack and set the hook.

Using the shrimp alone is not for everyone. You need to work is extremely slow. I find it really effective on calm days. It’s also a great sight-fishing lure. I also like to use it when work under and around docks and other structure.

D.O.A. Jerk Worm: The 4-inch jerk worm is my go-to lure in winter when I’m targeting snook, redfish and bass on local rivers. I put the worm on a 1/16-ounc jig head. Will take a variety of fish. I use the 5-inch jerk worm on the flats when I’m look for redfish and snook. I most often put it on a 1/16-ounce jig head or rig it weedless on a slightly weighted hook.

Zara Super Spook Jr.: You don’t want to hit the flats without a topwater plug. The Spook Jr., casts easily and is simple to work. You want to “walk the dog.” I produce that action by keeping my rod tip low. I real and twitch the lure. Key to success is not setting the hook when a fish strikes. You don’t want to set the hook until you feel the weight of the fish.

MirrOlure MirrOdine: A great lure when fish are feeding on white bait. I like to use it on a light spinning rig. I cast it out and work it erratically. Has wonderful action. Last time I used it, I caught a bunch of seatrout from 20 to 23 inches.

Johnson Silver Minnow: It might be marketed as a “silver” minnow, but I like it in gold. Works great for redfish. It’s also a great prospecting lure. It’s easy to cast and work. Simply cast it out, start your retrieve just before the lure hits the water. Just reel. If there are reds in the area, you’ll find them. Will also entice snook and seatrout. I like the 1/8-ounce version in colder weather when the bait’s smaller. I go to the ¼-ounce spoon during the warmer months.

There you have it.

Let me tell you where the action is

The Mighty Myakka Minnow is a go-to fly when fish are feeding on small minnows.
This Everglades bass fell for a Myakka Minnow.
I started fly fishing when I was in junior high school. I didn’t have a fly rod, but I’d somehow cast a popping bug far enough with a spinning rod to catch a few panfish.

I got my first fly rod a few years later and fell in love with the sport.

For many years, my arsenal consisted of a light fly rod, floating line, leader material and several white or chartreuse popping bugs. I caught plenty of fish. When bluegill, bass and other species quit hitting the poppers, it was time to go home.

Although I mainly fish saltwater these days, I still get out to a nearby lake or river every once in a while. And I’ve learned a that when the topwater bite subsides, it’s not the end of the day. In fact, it’s only just beginning – if you go subsurface.

Sometimes the topwater bite will last most of the morning. I’ll stick with it as long as the fish are willing to rise and take a popper. There really is nothing quite like a topwater strike! But you can’t force the fish to take a popper.

When that bite ends, I will switch to a No. 12 bead-head nymph under a strike indicator or my Myakka Minnow. The results often are amazing.

The nymph (I call it Aunt Sara’s Homely Daughter) is simple to tie, easy to cast and extremely effective. I use a strike indicator for a couple of reasons: 1. to keep the fly off the bottom; 2. to detect strikes.

Although fish occasionally will pull the strike indicator under, most often strikes are subtle. Sometimes the indicator will just twitch. At other times, it won’t move when you work the fly.

If it does anything out of the ordinary, set the hook.

The Myakka Minnow, a fly I created a few years ago, is most often tied on a No. 10 hook. I tie it in a variety of colors, including gold, black, copper and silver. It’s a very, very effective fly whenever fish are feeding on small minnows.

There are days when it’s the only fly I use.

Last year, I was fishing a client on the Manatee River. He wanted big bluegill. Two casts into the morning, I landed a really big bluegill on the Myakka Minnow. I caught several over the next 15 minutes.

My client was using a popping bug and getting no action. I suggested he use a Myakka Minnow and he agreed. So, I tied a black Myakka Minnow on his leader.

He made two casts, cut it off and tied on the popper.

Meanwhile, it kept producing for me.

He had no confidence in a fly he’d never fished before.

The Myakka Minnow was created after a frustrating day on the Myakka River. I caught a few fish on poppers, but not many. Bass and bluegill were feeding on small minnows along the edge of the river. Every time they’d send minnows flying, I’d cast the popper in the fray.

And every time I came up empty.

When I got home, I sat down at my tying desk to come up with a small minnow imitation. I came up with a prototype and used it the next time I fished the river.

It worked very well.

I’ve refined the design over the years. The fly is one of my top producers. It works extremely well in The Everglades.

No matter what fly you use, just remember that when the topwater bite ends it’s not time to head home.

Put on a subsurface fly and watch the action improve.

Fishing good in fresh and salt waters

Redfish action has been good in Sarasota Bay.
I have been fishing so much that I haven’t had a lot of time to write.

Since today’s a weather day, I’ll make time.

Fishing has been very good – when the weather allows.

On Thursday, I launched my kayak at Buttonwood Harbor and experienced very good action. As I was paddling along the Longboat Key rim canal, I noticed a lot of mullet on the grass flat just to the north. I interrupted my plans and detoured to the flat.

Casting a 1/8-ounce gold Johnson Silver Minnow, I caught a pair of upper-slot redfish and lost a couple of others.

Mullet are one of the most important keys when it comes to finding redfish. I don’t think the reds feed on the mullet, but I do think they feed on anything the mullet stir up: shrimp, crabs, worms, baitfish. Whenever I’m prospecting, I won’t even fish a flat if there are no mullet around.

When that bite subsided, I headed out into Sarasota Bay to fish an edge that has been very good to me over the last six months. I started out with a few small trout, but quickly discovered a pattern that resulted in several really nice trout.

Rather than position my kayak in deeper water and cast to the edge of the grass, I moved up onto the flat and cast out toward the deeper water. I was using a MirrOlure MirrOdine, a real trout killer. I caught and released 20 spotted seatrout of more than 20 inches. They ranged from 20 to 23 inches and were just clobbering that lure.

My success was interrupted by a storm that was heading my way. Discretion was the better part of valor, so I paddled back to the launch.

Earlier in the week, I spent a couple of days on Lake Manatee, one of my favorite bodies of water. It’ lightly fished and usually yields good catches.

On Tuesday, I landed 80 bluegill on No. 10 poppers, No. 12 bead-head nymphs and my Myakka Minnow. About 25 percent of the bluegill were jumbo. I also caught shellcracker, speckled perch, largemouth bass and channel catfish.

The action fell off drastically the next day – even though conditions were virtually the same. I cast a popper for about 30 minutes and didn’t get a hit. I started catching fish on the nymph (I call it Aunt Sara’s Homely Daughter), but really had to work for them. I landed a nice channel cat that nearly took me into the backing of my 1-weight fly rod.

I only caught 30 bluegill, but at least half of them were large. I didn’t get any bass, shellcracker or speckled perch.

The beauty of Lake Manatee, which is located 9 miles east of Interstate 75 off State Road 64 is that it’s very lightly fished. I suppose that’s because there’s a 20-horsepower limit on outboard motors or because it’s a tough lake to fish for those who aren’t familiar with it.

I launch near Lake Manatee Fish Camp (23745 State Road 64 East) and most often paddle under the bridge and fish the eastern end of the lake. I’ve found over the years that anywhere you find trees along the shoreline is where you’ll find the fish. In addition, you’ll catch some really nice panfish around most of the docks.

On Monday, I fished the east side of Sarasota Bay and paddled nearly to Long Bar. I caught and released 7 redfish from 15 to 23 inches, 15 trout to 18 and a nice pompano. The fish were taken on a 1/16-ounce D.O.A. CAL Jig with a gold paddle tail.

I had fished the same area a week early and caught 12 reds to 25 inches and some very nice seatrout. In addition, I found good numbers of snook in sand holes. I didn’t get any snook, but I stored the information in my mental notebook.

I look for some good action over the next month. Seatrout, bluefish, Spanish mackerel and pompano should be in good supply on the deep grass along the east and west sides of Sarasota Bay.

Redfish should cooperate

on the flats and the edges.

Snook will begin moving up creeks and rivers as the water temperature cools.

Starting in late December, I will begin fishing the Myakka River. Last year, I did well on snook to more than 30 inches, redfish to 25 and bass to 6 pounds. Best lure was a D.O.A. 4-inch CAL jerk worm on a 16-ounce jerk worm.

Bass fish is also good farther up the Myakka, with catches of 30 or more fish a day common.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

October fishing included a variety of species in Sarasota and Tampa bays

Redfish cooperated fairly well in October in Sarasota and Tampa bays.

October is a great month to fish in Florida, offering a variety of saltwater species. In addition to spotted seatrout, redfish and snook, other species arrive to add flare to the catch.

Flounder action was surprisingly plentiful around Sarasota and Tampa Bays. Best locations included Buttonwood Harbor and southern Tampa Bay. D.O.A. CAL Jigs with gold or copper crush paddle tails provided a bulk of the action. However, we picked up a few flatties on Clouser Deep Minnows.

Speaking of flies, I came up with a new baitfish pattern that I created using Enrico Puglisi brushes. I named the fly Gibby’s Duster. The Duster was spectacular in its debut on an outing into the Gulf of Mexico with Capt. Rick Grassett of the Snook Fin-Addict in Sarasota. I caught and released four false albacore to 9 pounds. Rick landed four on his white snook fly.

The fly also did well on a couple of outings in Tampa Bay, producing some fine spotted seatrout. Fishing a channel on the outgoing tide, the fly interested trout to 21 inches. I had caught a good number of fish on Clouser Deep Minnows, but the Duster accounted for the largest fish.

I participated in the 7th annual Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers/Coastal Conservation Association Fall Fly Fishing Challenge. Rick Grassett and I co-founded this fine event in 2004.

During pre-fishing, I landed fly-rod slams the two days prior to the event. A fly-rod slam is snook, trout and redfish. The first day, I caught maybe 50 trout to 21 inches and a 22-inch snook out of a Tampa Bay channel on the outgoing tide. The fish took Clouser Deep Minnows and Gibby’s Duster. Six hours later, I completed the slam with a 24-inch redfish on a Dupree Spoon Fly.

The following day, I returned to the channel and caught five dozen trout to 22 inches on Clousers, Dusters and Todd’s Wiggle Minnow, a topwater fly. I had hoped the get a snook and redfish there, too. That didn’t pan out.

As the outgoing tide stopped, so did the bite. So, I paddled into Mose’s Hole (you can only get there via kayak) and spent an hour casting a Dupree Spoon Fly. I caught a 24-inch snook and 28-inch redfish.

I was confident heading into the tournament.

Of course, the weather took a nose dive. The wind was blowing 12-16 mph out of the north. The sky was overcast and it was drizzling as I arrived at the Tampa Bay channel. I caught 35 trout to 16 ½ inches, but no snook or redfish.

I paddled to Mose’s Hole, but couldn’t find any snook or reds. I did managed several trout, including a 20-incher that increased my total inches of the species.

I ended up winning the Trout Division of the tournament with 156.75 inches. It wasn’t what I had envisioned, but I was satisfied.

Last year, I won the Snook Division with more than 100 inches.

Nate Swartz and Sam Swartz fished with me earlier in the month and had a good day, despite strong wind and trying conditions. They caught a good number of spotted seatrout, ladyfish and flounder – all on D.O.A. CAL Jigs with gold paddle tails.

This month, we look for good action on trout, redfish and snook. In addition, pompano, bluefish and Spanish mackerel should show up in increased numbers. We’ve been catching the latter trio, but sporadically.

Best spots have been the deep grass patches off Stephens Point and Whale Key in Sarasota Bay.

November gets very busy, so we encourage early bookings to assure you get in on the action.

As always, I’m available for fishing and fly-tying seminars. I spoke to the Englewood Fishing Club on Oct. 13 before a good turnout of enthusiastic members.

I have been in contact with Flying Fish Outfitters in Nokomis (a great fly/tackle shop) and I am planning a couple of fishing seminars and a fly-tying session.

Steve Gibson

Southern Drawl Kayak Fishing


(941) 284-3406